Best known for its ability to smooth out deep expression lines, Botox® reigns as the leading cosmetic treatment in the United States — nearly 7.5 million Botox and other similar neuromodulator injections were given in 2018 alone. But cosmetic surgeons and aestheticians aren’t the only ones qualified to administer Botox, and your wrinkles aren’t the only target.
At High Desert Dental in Ontario, Oregon, Dr. Ben Peterson and our team use Botox to treat a number of dental issues. Here, he explains how this cosmetic powerhouse does double duty in the dental chair.
In the 1920s, scientists isolated the botulinum toxin known for causing food poisoning, and in the 1970s, they discovered that ultra small doses of a purified form resolved crossed eyes (strabismus) by relaxing the underlying muscles. They also noticed that deep creases between the eyebrows relaxed and smoothed out as well — a serendipitous discovery that would become a full-fledged industry many years later.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the treatment for strabismus and eye spasms (blepharospasm) in 1989, and issued another approval for neck muscle contractions (cervical dystonia) in 2000. For more than a decade, the botulinum toxin that would become a cosmetic wonder was used exclusively in the medical field.
Eventually, Allergan licensed the treatment and gave it the brand name Botox. The FDA green-lighted it in 2002 for the treatment of glabellar lines between the eyebrows, and in 2013 for crow’s feet, but Botox still has more medical uses than most people realize.
In addition to strabismus, blepharospasm, and cervical dystonia, Botox is also FDA-approved to treat excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis), chronic migraines, and urinary incontinence.
It didn’t take long for dentists to discover the benefits of Botox in their own field. After all, dentists have extensive training in facial anatomy and understand the complex relationship between your mouth, jaw, and neck. They’re also experts at administering injections in the maxillofacial areas — a precise art and skill.
Dr. Peterson has years of experience using Botox to help our patients overcome the following dental conditions.
Sometimes, perceived tooth, cheek, and head pain stem from a problem in the jaw. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge that attaches your jaw to your skull, and it gets a workout every time you chew and talk. If you overwork it, the supporting muscles can spasm into painful contractions that pull your jaw out of alignment, a condition called TMJ disorder.
Botox relaxes your jaw muscles, releases the tension, and allows your jaw to settle back into its proper position.
Botox’s ability to relax muscle tissue also comes in handy if you’re a chronic teeth grinder or clencher. This condition, called bruxism, can crack, fracture, or wear down your teeth, causing pain and inviting infection. It can also lead to severe jaw pain.
Botox calms your muscles and helps prevent the clenching and grinding, especially at night when you’re not aware it’s happening.
Braces and Invisalign® are great for correcting crooked teeth and bad bites, but once the treatment is done, they can easily slip back into their old positions. That’s why it’s so important to wear a retainer after orthodontic therapy.
But your jaw and facial muscles also play a role in your post-orthodontic plan. Many people have a hyperactive mentalis muscle, which runs from your lower lip to the tip of your chin. If you’re one of them, this muscle can quickly undo the months of orthodontic work. Botox reduces the intensity of the muscle contractions and retrains the muscle to function normally.
If you’re an avid gum chewer and you tend to use one side of your mouth more than the other, you may develop an enlarged muscle on that side of your face. Technically called masseter hypertrophy, this is mainly a cosmetic issue, but it can also lead to jaw pain.
Botox injected into the affected muscle can ease the tension, while you focus on more balanced chewing techniques. The result is a recontoured, more symmetrical face.
If you seem to have more gums than teeth, you may suffer from excessive gingival display, otherwise known as a gummy smile. This can stem from the size and shape of your upper lip, overactive lips, excess gum tissue, or dental problems such as a bad bite.
In some cases, Dr. Peterson can alleviate the problem with a few Botox injections.
Dr. Peterson also offers Botox injections to smooth out the deep lines and dynamic wrinkles that years of facial expressions have etched into your skin.
To find out how Botox can resolve your dental and cosmetic issues, call us today or book an appointment online.